Fuentes v. Mega Media Holdings, Inc., 721 F.Supp.2d 1255, 96 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1317 (S.D. Fla. 2010) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff, Fuentes, is a Cuban author who wrote a book that included photographs taken of Castro’s regime (“Dulces Guerreros Cubanos”). Plaintiff has also created home movies of various Castro regime members and has registered a copyright for one movie, titled “Angola,” and for the book. Plaintiff claims that Defendant infringed on his copyrights by using his material in a broadcast of the Maria Elvira Salazar show, called "Maria Elvira Live," and by posting video clips of the show on the show’s website and on YouTube. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant illegally used his image and likeness during the show. Plaintiff alleged three causes of action (1) for copyright infringement, (2) for unauthorized publication of his name and likeness in violation of Florida Statute § 540.08, and (3) for invasion of privacy under Florida law. Defendant moved to dismiss only the second and third causes of action.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Florida Statute § 540.08 prohibits the public use of a person’s name or likeness for purposes of trade or advertising uses without the express written or oral consent to such use. To maintain a cause of action, a plaintiff must allege that his or her name or likeness is used to directly promote a commercial product or service. Plaintiff’s complaint only alleges that his name and likeness were used during the program, and not to actually promote the show. Therefore, Plaintiff’s second cause of action was dismissed without prejudice.
Under Florida common law, the tort of invasion of privacy is divided into four categories: (1) intrusion into an individual’s physical solitude or seclusion; (2) public disclosure of private facts; (3) portraying an individual in a false light in the public eye; and (4) appropriation, i.e. commercial exploitation, of the property value of one’s name. Similar to the dismissal of Plaintiff’s second cause of action, the privacy claim was dismissed for a failure to establish the use of his name or likeness to promote a product or service. Additionally, as a famous Cuban author, Plaintiff had become a limited purpose public figure for the covered subject matter of the show in question.